Going back to work after having a baby is hard. Regaining your footing in a world where working mothers are so often penalized is tough, and (just like most things during the postpartum period) it takes time.
The challenges we face as working women returning from a maternity leave can be so different from those we faced before, it can feel like we're starting over from scratch. But mothers will not be deterred, even if our return to the working world doesn't go exactly as planned.
We are resilient, as Serena Williams proved at Wimbledon this weekend.
She lost to Angelique Kerber in the final, just 10 months after welcoming daughter Alexis Olympia and recovering from a physically and emotionally traumatic birth experience.
Williams didn't get her eighth Wimbledon title this weekend, but when we consider all the challenges she (and all new moms) faced in resuming her career, her presence was still a huge achievement.
"It was such an amazing tournament for me, I was really happy to get this far!" Williams explained in an emotional post-match interview.
"For all the moms out there, I was playing for you today. And I tried. I look forward to continuing to be back out here and doing what I do best."
The loss at Wimbledon isn't what she wanted, of course, but Williams says it does not mean there won't be wins in her near future.
"These two weeks have showed me I can really compete and be a contender to win grand slams. This is literally just the beginning. I took a giant step at Wimbledon but my journey has just began."
When asked what she hopes other new moms take away from her journey, Williams noted her postpartum recovery was really difficult, and hopes that other moms who face challenges early in motherhood know that they don't have to give up on whatever dreams they have for themselves, whether it involves working or not.
"Honestly, I feel like if I can do it, they can do it. I'm just that person, that vessel that's saying, 'You can be whatever you want to be.' If you want to go back to work—and to me, after becoming a mom, I feel like there's no pressure to do that because having a child is a completely full-time job," she said.
"But to those that do want to go back, you can do it, you can really do it."
Thank you, Serena. You may not have won, but this was still a victory.